Bourke to Louth

Bourke to Louth, 205 km, 6 days

Wed 19 Aug 2020, 39 km

Get up at 5:45 am, take trolley to wharf at 6:45 and, with Derek's  assistance, get the Hobie into the water. This would be difficult for one person. A light sea kayak could be carried down the stairs but it is not an ideal launch spot to say the least.  Leave a 7 am and arrive at the Bourke Weir at 8 am. Nice morning and not much wind yet. Derek  kindly agreed to drive my gear to the weir to save me the trouble of packing the kayak twice in a short period.  Trolley the kayak around the weir and load the gear into it. Phone call to Christine and then start paddling at 8:50 am. Wind starts to strengthen but often it is a crosswind or sometime's behind me.  I generally pedal into the wind and paddle with the wind or sometimes in the crosswind. Lunch at 26 km where TRK (River Kings) camped.  River seems to be deeper with a few rocky outcrops but I don't hit anything with the fins.  The water is clearer than above Bourke.  Current is not often noticeable due to the wind but 900 Ml/day was passing through Bourke this morning. At 2:40 pm I  find a good camp on the left bank where a creek enters (or old river course) at 39 km. The creek forms a little harbour where I  can step onto dry mud.  Flat open areas for my tent are close by. Very happy with the day's progress considering difficult launch, portage and strong winds. No phone reception.

Thu 20 Aug 2020, 38 km

Breakfast in the tent ready for launch at 7:15 am. Calm conditions for an hour or so and then the westerly winds pick up. Chase pelicans down river. Reach the weir (19 Mile Weir?)at 54 km at 9:40 am and it takes till 10:50 before I launch downstream of the weir. The portage is difficult as you need to ascend and descend steep banks. I did it on the right bank.  The left could be a bit easier if you had two people.  There are numerous fishermen on the left bank downstream. The water is more turbid below the weir and there is good depth and a noticeable current. Red tailed black cockatoos squawk from the trees. I keep going non-stop till 2:30 pm when I  find a camp on a sandy beach at about 77 km. Weak mobile phone reception.

Fri 21 Aug 2020, 38 km

Launch at 7:30 am. Calm conditions for the first hour till the wind picks up again. I can paddle most of the way as the wind is across or behind me but in some sections I really appreciate being able to pedal into the headwind. At 86 km there is a small rapid that is easy to pass through close to the left bank. Close to Yanda campground at 95 km there is good phone reception as there is a tower located near by and I make some phone calls . One call is to Scott Lovig Hobie in Melbourne to see if they can send out a spare set of fins as I noticed last night that the fins seem have partially split along the seams down the length of the fins. I already have a spare set with me but if the current set break I would like to have another spare set. I arrange for the fins to be sent to Tilpa Hotel where I should arrive in about 10 days. I also see on the Water Live app that the flow at Bourke is 1100Ml/day which is good for me. They must be getting a few hundred megalitres a day from the Bogan River. I see a fisherman near Yanda Campground and another one at Redbank Station - no doubt named after the red banks along this sketch of river. I see a dead ring tree and stop across the river for a photo and call home. I continue till 2:30 pm where I find a sandy bank at the 115 km mark. Unfortunately the sand is a thin layer over soft mud. I make camp anyway. There are some dark clouds about so I quickly set up camp with a few drops of rain falling just as I finished. I put seam seal along the splits in the fins as suggested by Scott Lovig Hobie. Weak phone reception.

Sat 22 Aug 2020, 27 km

Wind starts blowing during the night and is mostly a headwind for the 27 km to Rose Isle Station at 142 km. The seam sealer on the fins seem to be holding the splits together. Get a cabin here for $45 a night. Nice rustic camp kitchen with fire and Telstra mobile reception (via antenna). The owner, Samantha, is a descendent of Major Mitchell's brother.

Sun 23 Aug 2020, 36 km

Launch from Rose Isle Station at 7:50 am. Paddle for over an hour then pedal. Winds are now SW but lighter than yesterday. After about 5 km pass a creek that could be a good campsite up the creek. I later realise that this creek is the Warrego River. Get to Weir 28 (163 km) a bit before 11 am. Scout the right bank for the portage but there is too much fallen timber for the trolley and the bank below the weir is very steep. Do the portage on the left bank from about 100 m upstream of the weir. Hard work getting the kayak up the bank but ok from there. The old lightweight hiking pack that I bought at the NPA Christmas party about 10 years ago from David Large(?) has been very useful for the portage. I carried too much water in one go in my hand for too far and worry that I may have strained my elbow but it seems to cope well with paddling later in the afternoon. Portage takes an hour. Have lunch then launch. Lots of pelicans just downstream. Continue to great campsite at 178 km just downstream of and across from Talowla Homestead arriving at 3:20 pm. Solid sand on the beach with a flat area for my tent a few metres from where I park my kayak. It smells a bit fishy - I think the pelicans like standing here. Put another hole in my wetsuit boots which I glue together with seam sealer (also put some sealer on the other side of the fins). It's enjoyable watching the view with a drink in the late afternoon although a chill sets in as the sun goes down. Pelicans and red tailed black cockatoos fly past honking and screeching at me for invading their territory. It's forecast to be 2-17 in Bourke tomorrow. Weak mobile reception up on the bank.

Mon 24 Aug 2020, 33 km

Beautiful morning. Photograph sunrise. The river has risen 1 cm overnight like other nights and the flow at Louth is 815 Ml/day and rising. Bourke has plateaued at 1300. I need to be careful not to go to far ahead of the peak. Launch at 7:50 am. Calm conditions, very enjoyable paddle making up for the headwinds of the past five days. Run aground on a shallow stony race at 192 km just after a nice sandy beach. I chase a large group of pelicans down river and later see them gliding high above. Reach Louth at 12:10 pm and retrieve my food package from Shindys Inn. The Inn is closed due to Covid 19 but open for fuel and takeaways. You need to ring the number and the lady comes out in mask and gloves. Good to see that precautions are being taken even in the outback. I order two pies which I eat in the park across the road. The lady doesn't have time to sign my book as she is preparing lunch for 12 people. I launch at 1:10 pm and find a good campsite about 6 km downstream just after 2pm. It has afternoon shade and there is a cool breeze but a good fire makes up for that. Corellas roost in the nearby trees.